We’ve all heard the alluring tales of Spanish escudos and pieces-of-eight being pulled up from the shallow waters all along Florida’s Treasure Coast, spilled from the wrecks of galleons long ago.

It’s true, this area is a gold mine – literally – and people today still find the occasional coin and other riches while hunting along the beach.

But not all treasure comes in the form of silver and gold. In Martin County, you’ll find a vast array of natural activities to be had – perfect for a spring or summer getaway.

Turtle Walks and Nature Talks

walking on the beach in Martin County Florida

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

- Matthew Beziat

Each year, thousands of sea turtles come ashore at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, where the pristine beach and low light provide a safe haven during the nesting season. Starting in May and running until mid-July, nighttime sea turtle walks are conducted by guides from the Hobe Sound Nature Center, a non-profit organization located on the Hobe Sound National Wildlife property.

Get a look into a coastal ecosystem at the Florida Oceanographic Society’s 57-acre nature center on Hutchinson Island. Take a walk through a coastal hardwood hammock or mangrove swamp on the center’s nature trails (guided tours are available, too) or check out the 750,000-gallon lagoon (where educational programs about stingray, sea turtle and other wildlife are held daily).

Snorkeling and Sailing

Bathtub Beach in Martin County Florida

Bathtub Beach, Martin County

- Martin County CVB

Grab your mask and fins and head to the newly restored Bathtub Reef Beach – a unique, shallow lagoon edged with a living reef is just steps from the sand.

It’s the perfect place for both new and seasoned snorkelers alike, where in minutes you’ll be floating above the rocky reef. Great water clarity gives the opportunity to see plenty of tropical fish and other marine life.

Sail the seas aboard the Lilly, a traditional wooden sailboat on your choice of three tours that last about two hours. The Lily is available for private charters, and can accommodate up to 42 people. Tours depart from the Stuart Riverwalk Pier. Use the rest of your day to explore the shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions in historic downtown Stuart.

Stay a While

Downtown Stuart in Martin County

There's plenty of charm in old downtown Stuart, like the Coffee Bar Blue Door on SE Osceola St.

- Photo by Peter W. Cross

Believe me, one day in Martin County Florida isn’t enough – take some time and plan a weekend visit (or longer, if so inclined). There’s plenty of resort-style hotels, quaint cottages and cozy campsites with spring and summer specials. Stay near downtown Stuart, and you’ll catch live music during the Rock'n Riverwalk Series through May.

For more information about planning your visit to Martin County, visit discovermartin.com.